Months into the quarantine, and now you’re fixated on K-drama — just like everybody else. After going through your nth series, you’ve decided to go all-out Korean. In other words, you’re now committed to snacking on authentic Korean dishes. In that case, it’s time to skip the pancit canton and start splurging on these must-buy items at your local Korean grocery store. (Yes, most of them deliver during the quarantine!)
A very famous side dish, kimchi definitely tops the list of must-try Korean dishes. It’s a great food staple, especially during this quarantine, because it’s both healthy and long-lasting. The fermented dish contains healthy bacteria that helps your digestion; it also has probiotics to strengthen your immune system. When refrigerated, kimchi lasts for up to six months!
2. Tteokbokki (Rice cakes)
While you’re going through countless K-dramas, your stomach deserves some tteokbokki. After all, why subject yourself to the torture of just watching your favourite characters rave about this savoury Korean dish? In most Korean grocery stores, instant tteokbokki comes in a variety of flavours. You can have it cheesy, spicy, buttery or sweet! If you prefer to prepare the dish yourself, you may opt to buy rice cakes and sauce separately.
3. Samgyupsal (Grilled pork belly)
Share the love for all things Korean with the people stuck at home with you. Most Korean grocery stores sell samgyupsal by the pack. If you’re not too hungry, you can share this with four to five people! Don’t forget to purchase this with…
4. Ssamjang (Dipping sauce)
Samgyupsal is not samgyupsal without ssamjang, the dipping sauce that works magic in most Korean dishes. Once you’re out of samgyupsal beef, you can start getting creative with this sauce. Wrap grilled chicken, liempo, or whatever meat in lettuce; dip it in the ssamjang for an instant KBBQ experience!
5. Gochujang (Chilli paste)
If you’ve been spending time in the kitchen, it’s important that you gear up with Korean sauces for your cooking. Gochujang is one of the most popular condiments in Korea. It’s most commonly used as a marinade (bulgogi!) and a soup flavouring. You can also get creative with this sauce: Mix it into your rice or instant noodles to upgrade your plain dishes!
6. Dakjuk (Chicken porridge)
The truth is, quarantine mornings are not always the most thrilling. But if you have dakjuk in your pantry, you’ll have something to look forward to. Basically, dakjuk is like a Korean version of arroz caldo. It’s known for its high nutritional value, as it’s abundant in vegetables and protein. (Plus, it’s perfect for the rainy season!) You can score microwavable dakjuk in most Korean marts.
7. Ramyun (Instant noodles)
Thou shall not skip instant noodles when visiting a Korean grocery. Exploring the infinite world of ramyun flavours has got to be one of the most thrilling experiences you’ll have in this lifetime. And because you’re gearing up for longer days at home anyway, get noodles in kimchi, cheese, curry, seafood, vegetarian, and super spicy flavours.
Nori sheets. Dried kelp. Roasted seaweed chips. The Korean grocery store is a haven for seaweed products! You can sprinkle them as toppings or eat them as snacks — you can even use them for wrappers and soups.
9. Kimbap (Sushi roll)
Japanese is to sushi as Korean is to kimbap. Made of white rice and dried seaweed, kimbap is a slightly sweeter version of the sushi we’ve always known. Typically, it contains vegetables, cooked meat, and egg — but of course, the best Korean marts provide a wide variety of kimbap for you to choose from.
10. Mandu (Dumplings)
If you love kimbap, you probably adore mandu just as much. These Korean-style dumplings are the perfect pair with ramyun — or even fried rice! Many Korean marts are delivering frozen mandu during the quarantine. Once you get your hands on them, the cooking style is all up to you! Steam them, boil them, grill them, pan-fry them, or deep-fry them — contrary to popular belief, there’s no wrong way to eat mandu!
11. Peel sausages
If you’ve watched Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, you’d probably recognise these. Peel sausages are not just on their own; Koreans also love adding these as toppings for noodles and porridge. The most famous flavour? Cheese sausages, for sure!
You can drown in the savoury Korean dishes all you want, but don’t miss out on their sweets just yet! Korea produces some of the best chocolate products: choco pies, chocolate-covered sticks, chocolate-dipped biscuits, chocolate-flavoured chips, and chocolate bars included.
Honey butter chips have gained popularity among Filipinos lately, but don’t be too quick to single these out. Korean cheese chips, corn chips, onion chips, and seaweed chips deserve just as much love! Go on — traverse through the junk food aisles ahead. You won’t be disappointed.
Isn’t it obvious that Koreans are obsessed with seeds? They garnish most dishes with roasted sesame seeds. If not sesame seeds, Koreans add perilla seeds to their meals. These typically provide the nutty and warm flavours to their food. Aside from these, most Korean grocery stores also have more unconventional seed products, like chocolate-covered sunflower seeds!
15. Ice cream
After deluging yourself in hot and spicy Korean goods, it’s time to soothe your palate with ice cream. Melona and B-b-big are some of the most popular Korean desserts in the Philippines — the former tastes fruitier; the latter is more textured and filling.
16. Flavoured milk
Many claim that flavoured milk is the true gem of Korean groceries. It comes in several flavours including strawberry, coffee, mulberry, and tangerine. The leading variety? Banana milk.
The sweetness and creaminess of banana milk have made it a crowd-favourite in South Korea, and a lot of Hallyu fans in the Philippines have taken notice of this as well! Topping the brands of flavoured milk is Binggrae, the banana drink originally created when the Korean government wanted to address malnutrition through milk.
By now, you probably already know that Koreans love their coffee. They’re almost as obsessed as we are! This said, you should totally try out their instant coffee. Some are in plastic packs, but since you’re trying to save the environment, go for the canned cold brews instead. They’re just as delicious and satisfying!
Since you’ve bid goodbye to the alcohol ban, you might be craving for some soju. This clear beverage has become a staple for Korean-loving Pinoys, because of its very distinct sweet, clean flavour. Upgrade your e-numans with a bottle of soju — mix it up with DIY soju cocktail recipes! (There are a lot of recipes on the Internet, but we can vouch for the soju-lemon-Yakult mix.)
19. Sheet masks
Of course, you should buy Korean skincare products while you’re at it. You can absolutely sneak one (or ten) of those ₱15 sheet masks to your overflowing cart. Let Korean-inspired skincare be your best friend during these tough (and honestly, boring) times. Just imagine: You’re done filling yourself with Korean-food, then you head over to your bed to binge on more K-dramas. The experience just won’t be complete without a sheet mask!
20. Shampoo and conditioner
Alas, why settle with healthy skin when you can have beautiful hair as well? Korean products are known for making good use out of herbal plants, so you’re sure that their shampoos and conditioners are nutrient-dense. So what are you waiting for? Get some of those products to treat your locks to the love they deserve.
Congratulations! You’re now a step closer to your oppa. What’s next on your Korean-inspired bucket list? Let us know!